Suburban Sites

The city of Vijayanagara extended well beyond the walls of the Urban Core to encompass a number of outlying settlements, now marked by modern villages. This region was of importance since it supplied food and goods to sustained the king, court and general population. Here camped the thousands of troops and animals that were displayed during the annual Mahanavami festival, and which were brought to the capital before warring campaigns. The arcs of fort walls and gateways and even the dam walls and reservoirs that dot these outer settlements helped to protect the Urban Core itself.

One of the most important suburban settlements is the village of Anegondi on the opposite bank of the Tungabhadra, some 4 kilometres downstream from Hampi. Anegondi preserves shrines going back to pre-Vijayanagara times, and it is still the residence of a local family of royal origins. Several lines of walls with gateways protected the approach to the town from the north. The fort that crowns the hill that rises to the west of the village was expanded in post-Vijayanagara times.

Kamalapura, southeast of the Urban Core, preserves little from the Vijayanagara period, other than shrines and a huge tank, which served as the principal water supply for the Royal Center. A modern road runs along its earthen retaining wall. A short distance to the east of Kamalapura is the Pattabhirama temple, a religious complex that served as the nucleus of a sixteenth century suburban quarter. An elevated platform to the southeast of the town may have been used to view state ceremonies.

Muslim military officers must have resided in Kadirampura, a village that lies on the road from Hampi to Hospet, for here two Islamic tombs can still be seen amid many collapsed and looted graves. If one continues in the direction of Hospet, the next village is Malpannagudi, in the middle of which is a dilapidated temple. Pavilion-like gateways at either end of the village mark the ancient roadway between Hospet and Hampi described by the foreign visitors. Fort walls that once extended to either side once formed the wall of a large tank. A short distance away is an early fifteenth century octagonal well surrounded by Islamic styled arches, and reached by a flight of steps.

One of the most impressive and innovative religious monuments in Vijayanagara’s suburban settlements is that dedicated to Anantashayana, the reclining form of Vishnu. This is located in the village of Anantashayanagudi, a short distance from the modern town of Hospet. A lofty, vaulted brick tower roofs the rectangular sanctuary of the temple.

Except for small temples inside the town and sixteenth century Muslim tombs on its peripheries, nothing can now be seen of the sixteenth century royal suburb laid out in the Hospet area by the Vijayanagara kings. But 1 kilometre south of the town is a long earthen wall, over which runs the highway leading to Chitradurga and Bangalore. The wall was intended to trap water in a great tank, but the project appears to have been ineffective.

On the north flank of the Sandur hills that rise above Hospet is a temple complex known as Jambavateshvara. It is one of eight auspicious “gateways” to the precincts of Pampakshetra, that defined the boundaries of the vast sacred zone that surrounded the Virupaksha temple, and by implication, the city itself.